In a hyper competitive society, what unites Singaporeans is a spirit that no one is left behind, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing said.
In a video posted on the People’s Action Party’s Facebook page, Mr Chan, who was the Social and Family Development Minister from November 2012 to May 2015, explained how the Government has structured the social spending system in Singapore to help individuals according to their needs.
Drawing a simple graph of the rich and poor gap, he explained how taxes from the rich are used to help the lower-income segment. But because the amount taken from the rich is not enough, the Government tops up the difference using 50 per cent of the earnings from the national reserves to add to the Budget, which in turn goes to help the poor and the middle-income.
Resources are distributed with three basic needs in mind – education, healthcare and housing, he said.
“Every child that goes to our national school system has access to the same opportunities. Every Singaporean has access to affordable healthcare. And for the 80 per cent of Singaporeans who stay in Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats, they, too, will get some form of housing subsidies at various stages of their lives,” Mr Chan said.
Beyond these three basic needs, the Government also has targeted schemes to help families with young children and those with special needs, he said. On top of that, there is the Workfare scheme for low-income workers, ComCare to provide temporary help for those who need it and the Public Assistance scheme for those who are no longer able to work or take care of themselves, he added.
“We try to provide something for all Singaporeans regardless of their socio-economic background. But what we have done is reserve the most help for those who need it the most, and that is the people who are the poorest,” he said.
Mr Chan also said he has seen many Singaporeans stepping forward to volunteer their time to help others.
“I think this is something commendable and reflects our Singapore spirit,” he said. “We all have neighbours and if we see our neighbours in need – whether it’s financial or emotional or other forms of need – if we are attentive, we can link them up with the agencies that are there to provide help.”